“The Price Gap is Closing”
6/9/2023 New Paths Sustainability Interview

“The Price Gap is Closing”

In an interview with FACHPACK360°, cirplus founder and CEO Christian Schiller talks about the future of plastics recycling, the potential of AI, and the trend towards greater sustainability. He is convinced that his company’s digitalization approach will make a significant contribution to closing the price gap between virgin materials and recyclates.

Christian Schiller is CEO and one of the founders of cirplus, a global marketplace for recyclates. Christian Schiller is CEO and one of the founders of cirplus, a global marketplace for recyclates.

Recyclates are traded on many B2B platforms or procured through traditional procurement channels and recycling companies. What speaks in favor of cirplus?

Our procurement platform is designed as a “one-stop shop” for trading in recycled plastics, which means that as the first platform on the market, we have set ourselves the goal of not only serving as a supplier directory, but also of digitizing the entire purchasing or sales process for our customers, thereby realizing significant efficiency gains. In doing so, we also provide initial access to the subject of recyclate use for those who have not yet dealt with the topic at all.

How exactly does this work?

With the help of the cirplus software, our customers can track which types of plastic waste and recyclates are available or traded, where, and at what conditions. Complex transactions are thus significantly simplified, and transaction costs are reduced. Building on this basic digitization, artificial intelligence applications are also conceivable in the future, among other things, to optimize the recycling routes of waste throughout the world in real time. The result is a modern end-to-end supply chain tool that can communicate seamlessly with our customers’ enterprise resource planning systems. Digitization made in Germany.

Too low prices for virgin plastic and a lack of incentives for the use of recyclates are slowing down the transformation of the circular economy. What does this mean for your business?

Two points: First, our digitalization approach can make a significant contribution to closing the price gap between virgin and recycled materials. Up to 25 percent of the transaction costs in the production and use of plastic recyclates can be reduced, the more we integrate ourselves vertically into our customers’ purchasing and sales processes. Secondly, increasing consumer and regulatory attention to plastics is creating pressure to finally break the Gordian knot in plastics recycling and to offer reliable volumes and qualities at attractive prices. This includes permanently improving the market and investment conditions on the recycling market compared to the virgin material market. The Renewable Energies Act, which at the time enshrined the feed-in priority of electricity from renewable sources over that from fossil sources, could serve as a model for this.

Despite all the volatility of demand in recent months, we are therefore optimistic about the development of sales for cirplus and the recycling market in general. The trend towards more and genuine sustainability in the plastics industry has depth.

How does cirplus ensure the quality of the recyclates it offers?

Quality stands and falls with uniform, standardized language along the value chain. To this end, we initiated and funded DIN SPEC 91446, the world’s first standard for high-quality plastics recycling and digitization. DIN SPEC 91446 is currently being converted into a European standard. It has now also been taken up by the German Association of the Automotive Industry and introduced as a new recommendation (VDA 284) for the use of recyclates in the automotive industry. Offers or purchasing specifications can thus be easily classified and given an initial ranking by means of test results, which makes it much easier to access the market.

Which plastic recyclates do you offer?

Basically, all types of plastic recyclates can be offered on our platform, from standard thermoplastics to engineering plastics. In terms of volume, standard thermoplastics account for the largest share, i.e., primarily PET, PP, PE, and PS. In our work, we focus in particular on post-consumer recyclates, i.e., household packaging waste, because this is where the greatest need to catch up is in terms of both quality and quantity.

Which industries do your customers come from?

More than 2,500 companies are registered on the platform today. These include companies from the automotive and household goods industries, major packaging manufacturers, and branded goods companies, as well as smaller and medium-sized businesses that want to seize the opportunities of digitization early on. Ultimately, our software is aimed at all companies that want to use and sell circular plastics.